Accessible Adventures: Traveling With Special Needs

There is a world of travel possibilities for people with special needs! Where do you want to go? What do you want to experience? With a bit of careful planning and the asking some important questions, individuals with disabilities can find accessible travel options for many exciting destinations worldwide.

If vacation or business travel has been a daunting idea to you or to your family, be encouraged that there many places to explore where special needs can be easily accommodated with your comfort and convenience in mind.

You Have Places to Go & Things to Do

Family Vacations – Travel options abound for families with special needs children. Ranging from amusement and theme parks designed for a number of disabilities or camps that offer programs and accommodations for a broad spectrum of special needs, there are exciting possibilities for making fun family memories! Vacations to Disney World, National Parks, museums, and the like can also be accessible for those with disabilities through the utilization of things like travel wheelchairs, access guides, and travel agents that specialize in travel with disabilities.

Travel Planning for Special Needs – there are a number of companies that specialize in creating group tours, cruises, and individual wheelchair travel options. These companies develop itineraries and travel arrangements that facilitate special needs accessibility. Their travel agents assist in making arrangements and providing the appropriate resources to make your experience an enjoyable and memorable one.

Travel Resources for Special Needs

Travel Agencies & Tour Groups – A number of travel agencies and tour groups that specialize in travel arrangements for people with disabilities have developed over the years. Theses agencies and groups provide assistance in planning and executing vacations for people with a broad range of special needs.

Travel Companions – Whether you require assistance from a companion to manage daily activities or simply want someone to travel with, there are companies that can offer these services. Be sure to search for companions from reputable companies or with credible references.

Accessibility Guides – There are a number of publications, websites, & blogs available to assist with your travel planning. These guides outline destinations, accommodations, transportation, and other resources for traveling with disabilities.

Travel Wheelchairs – The right travel chair can make any trip less stressful and much more comfortable. There are travel wheelchairs that are especially designed for making travel feasible and safe. Look for chairs that are comfortable and durable, but also lightweight, compact or collapsible, and easy to maneuver.

Online Resources:

Disability Travel and Recreation Resources (MAKOA.org)

Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality (SATH.org)

Travelconsumer.com

DisabledTravelers.com

Additional Travel Tips

Airplane Travel – Travel by airplane can be a bit intimidating for some travelers, especially if you must travel with a wheelchair or have mobility restrictions. Airlines are required to provide reasonable accommodation for individuals with special needs, but that does not mean you should leave your travel comfort in the airline’s hands. A little extra planning on your part can make for a much more enjoyable airport and flying experience.

  • Plan to arrive two to three hours prior to a domestic flight or up to four hours prior to an international flight to ensure enough time to get through security and make your way to the gate.
  • If you experience discomfort after sitting for extended periods of time, strongly consider selecting destinations where travel times are limited. You should also consider if limited mobility is an issue, restroom use on the plane may be difficult. Some airlines provide small chairs to transport guests to the restroom, but if this is not an option, it would be wise to limit your time in the air.
  • It may be a bit more expensive to secure non-stop flights for your trip, but limiting connections can reduce the stress of navigating multiple airports in a restricted time period.
  • Research the airline and plane ahead of time. Can the plane size accommodate a wheelchair in the cabin? Can you reserve an aisle seat?
  • Individuals in wheelchairs or scooters are subject to thorough searches at the security checkpoints. While it may be a bit uncomfortable and tedious, these searches are to ensure the safety of all passengers.
  • If you require medication or have mobility restrictions, it can be helpful to secure a letter from your doctor to make the transition through security a little easier.

Hotel Accommodations – While most commercial establishments are required to provide handicap accessibility, there are a few things to consider for ensuring a successful hotel stay during your travels. Make your hotel reservations over the phone if possible. If applicable, ask about whether the doors to the rooms are wide enough for a wheelchair and that the restrooms and showers in the room are handicap accessible. Be sure to get a confirmation number for your reservation. For convenience, it is often good to request a room on the ground floor or be sure to verify that an elevator is available.

Great Corporate Travel Deals

Many corporations embark on frequent business traveling trips all through the year. Companies of such personnel provide them with all the necessities for a comfortable, safe, and entertaining travel. For this purpose companies hire professional travel consultants or business travel Management Companies to provide them with good travel deals.

These corporate travel management companies deal with various issues like purchasing airline tickets, perfect accommodation packages that involve hotels and car reservations, information about destinations, and all kind of travel news. They offer a variety of deals with several packages in various price ranges. These travel management companies keep in mind that a particular corporate company is their regular customer and hence, supplies them with discounted rates on travel tickets as well as hotel accommodations in the visiting city. This builds a good rapport with the corporate organizations and guarantees a confirmed customer.

Many websites based on travel planning and related information offer several travel deals for corporate traveling at affordable prices. The corporate travel deals offer reduce costs with agreement policies and estimate travel budget with reporting and analysis, help in managing hectic travel schedule of employees with innovative solutions and provide 24 hours traveler support at no extra charges.

Corporate companies availing travel amenities via a travel agency should enquire about the available discounts and additional facilities provided by the agency. Some great corporate travel deals include leisure facilities such as gymnasiums, swimming pools, pool tables, bars, and golf courses free of cost. This grants the employees with much needed relaxation and refreshment after the long hours of work.

The websites advertising great corporate travel deals should be checked for their reliability and genuineness quotient before placing orders and making payments online. Each travel deal is distinct from the other. Each is based on various factors such as frequency of the company making bookings through them, the number of personnel traveling, the destinations, and whether the travel is being done in holiday seasons or off-seasons.

Travel Tips For Consultants

Travel is a fact of life for most consultants. Many spend 45 weeks on the road every year, and some say they wouldn’t want it any other way.

We know one married couple where both are traveling consultants. They often joke that they should write a book called “Marriage on Three Days a Week” because they only see each other from Thursday night to Sunday night most weeks. Of course, they take great vacations with all the frequent flier miles and hotel points, and neither one is left at home to manage the household while the other dines in restaurants every night and comes home expecting all the chores to be done.

Like many others, they have learned how to be comfortable on the road so that their travel schedules are a source of new experiences and great stories instead of a hardship. If you learn how to be comfortable in your environment, you’ll do better work and last longer in this demanding field.

There are two types of consulting roles, from a travel schedule perspective. One type of consultant is the real Road Warrior who is in a different city each week, often visiting two or three different clients and staying only a couple of days each place. The other type travels to the same destination every week to work on a long-term engagement over several months. Which type of travel schedule you end up with depends as much on your personality as on your skill set.

No matter which type of travel schedule you have, there are some seemingly small things you can do to make yourself significantly more comfortable on the road.

Enroll in every frequent flier and hotel points program you can. The biggest perks in business travel come when you get a free family vacation later. All those trips to Pittsburgh might buy you a trip to Honolulu or Prague or wherever your heart leads you.

Whenever possible, use the same airline and hotel chain for every city. This helps you rack up the points faster, and it also establishes a level of comfort and familiarity for you from the moment you arrive in the city. Not every Marriott is exactly like every other Marriott, but there are enough similarities between them that you will begin to feel at home quickly.

Packing for Travel

Develop a routine for packing. Make a checklist that includes everything that you know you’ll need for any trip, including items like toothbrush and cell-phone charger. Go over the checklist every single time you pack a suitcase.

If you don’t follow this advice, you will eventually end up spending $200 on a “charge everything” device and using a hotel toothbrush that will rip your gums out.

  1. Always assume you will have to carry your luggage yourself. If you aren’t sure you will need it, don’t take it. You can always buy one there. (Don’t accept engagements in locations that don’t have stores.)
  2. Pack something comfortable to wear in your hotel room and clothes you can wear to work out.
  3. Plan to sleep in something you don’t mind being seen wearing in public. In the event of a fire, hotels will evacuate two floors above and two floors below, even if it’s just a small fire in a trash basket. That’s what that loudspeaker above the bed is for.
  4. All luggage looks alike. Make your bag easy to spot on the carousel and less likely to be stolen with a few strategically placed strips of duct tape or a big pink bow.
  5. The military knows that rolled clothing does not wrinkle. Don’t fold it, roll it. Turn jackets inside out, fold the collar up and press one shoulder inside the other.
  6. Think about what you pack from the perspective of Customs and Airport Security. For example, many airlines will not allow you to carry steel-tipped darts in your carry-on luggage. (Yes, one of us learned this the hard way. Not the one you think.) Carry all medication in the original packages, particularly prescription medication.
  7. Purchase two of everything you use daily, like cosmetics, razors, toothbrush, etc. Leave one set at home. Pack toiletries once and leave them packed. This way, you don’t have to worry that you forgot something essential and will not notice until the middle of the night in a strange hotel room. When you run out of something on the road, replace it. (This is easier if you use common brands that are sold nationally.)

After only a few weeks of travel, you’ll know exactly what you need to pack and what you don’t.

Hotel Living

If you are traveling to the same city every week, pick a hotel that you are comfortable in and make friends with the people at the front desk and in Housekeeping. If you can commit to a certain number of weeks, they might even give you a break on the room rate, which is also good for your customer.

Once you’ve tried two or three different rooms in different parts of the hotel, you’ll begin to identify specific things you like or dislike. Within a few weeks, you’ll probably have a favorite room. Don’t be afraid to ask for it every week. Staying in the same room every week can increase your sense of comfort and it’s easier to remember what room you are in. Every one of us has been frustrated at least once by trying to open a hotel room door, only to realize that the key doesn’t work because this is the room we were in last week, and we have no idea what room we have been assigned this week.

If you followed our instructions for packing and bought duplicates of all your toiletries and travel needs, you can check a suitcase with the bellman over the weekend instead of carrying it home with you. Leave your laundry with a dry cleaner over the weekend and come back on Monday to a fresh wardrobe without carrying a bag with you to the airport. That’s freedom!

Make friends with the people who have control of the food. If you are eating all your meals off the Room Service menu, you will soon get bored with the choices. Encourage the person who answers the Room Service line to give you suggestions.

When Christine was working in one city where it wasn’t considered safe to leave the hotel and wander around at night, she called the Room Service number one night and said, in the most pitiful voice she could muster, “I’m hungry and nothing on the menu looks good tonight. Help me!”

The Room Service voice laughed and said, “Miss Lambden, don’t you worry. After all these months, I know what you like. Let me surprise you.”

In addition to the best steak and the freshest salad ever served by Room Service, the waiter brought a glass of red wine and said, “The chef said to tell you that he knows you don’t like red wine, but this is special. Try it with the steak. Alternate one bite of steak with one sip of wine.”

She still talks about that steak. After that night, she never had to look at the Room Service menu again. When she called, she would say, “Maybe a fish tonight?” or “I’m in the mood for something chocolate.”

Remember, if you are tired of the hotel menu, just imagine how the chef feels.

Since you can’t eat all the time, here are some other ways to fill an evening in a hotel room:

  1. Call your mother.
  2. Read.
  3. Go to a movie.
  4. College libraries are often open late. Learn something.
  5. Work out. Remember the Freshman Fifteen in college? The life of a consultant includes too many meals in restaurants and too few long walks in the park.

If you exercise at home, try to exercise the same way when you are traveling. Find out if it’s safe to walk/run outside near the hotel. This is also a great way to find the neighborhood restaurants and pubs that the travel books don’t know about.

If you exercise in a gym at home, stay in a hotel with a gym and use it. If there is no gym available in the hotel, remember that many national chains have memberships that allow you to work out in any city. Like national hotel and restaurant chains, gyms are a great way to find familiar surroundings in an unfamiliar place.

Exploring new cities is a great way to get e
xercise and enjoy your time on the road. See the sights. Shop. Ask the people at the hotel and at work what you should be sure to see while you are in town.

We know one consultant who managed, in one year, to see Niagara Falls (working in Buffalo), the Arch in St. Louis, the Napa Valley wine country, six shows on Broadway, and Fort Lauderdale during Spring Break.

Did you know that Kansas City is the City of Fountains? In the winter, the city slowly freezes some of the fountains so you see frozen ice where water flows in the summer. Just beautiful.

Did you know that you can visit the Budweiser Clydesdales at Grant’s Farm in St. Louis? If you think they are fun to watch on Super Bowl commercials, just imagine how magnificent they are up close.

These opportunities may not present themselves again. Don’t spend every evening in your hotel room.

Every city has something unique to offer and the people who live there will be happy to help you discover what is wonderful about their hometown.

Single Life on the Road

The constant-travel lifestyle is often more appealing to single people who do not have a family at home waiting for them each week. For these consultants, the only challenge is finding a way to maintain a home when you aren’t there during the week.

Here are some tips:

  1. Ask a friend or neighbor to pick up your mail once or twice during the week.
  2. Install automatic light timers in your house. Install motion sensor lights outside. This makes it look like someone is home and protects your stuff. (It also makes bats and possums find another yard to live in, but that might just be an Austin thing.)
  3. Hide valuables. Burglars know all about looking in the freezer for your jewelry, but would they think to look in that bag of potting soil in the garage? Hint: Tell someone you trust where you hid them…you’ll remember all the great spots you considered, and you’ll forget the one you picked.
  4. Splurge a little with all that money you are making as a consultant and hire a maid service to come in and clean your house while you are gone. If you have a lawn, hire a yard service, too. The last thing you are going to feel like doing when you finally get home is housework, and you’ll be happier in this job if you don’t feel that you are neglecting chores.
  5. If possible, have a trusted house-sitter stay in your house. Then you won’t have to worry at all.

In addition to maintaining your house, a single person on the road has to maintain a social life. When you are out of town all week, it’s easy to find yourself excluded from your friends’ conversations about plans for the weekend. You have to work harder to maintain those friendships at home, especially if you are also forming new friendships in the city where you are working.

It’s not totally unheard of for consultants assigned to the same client week after week to form friendships, or even romantic attachments, in the city where they work. Having bonds with people all over the country can be a huge advantage professionally because your network is expanded to include all of their colleagues, as well.

Don’t date someone in the client company. This can get messy. (Yeah, we know. Your situation is different. You’ll handle it like grownups. We’d like to believe this, but in our experience it rarely works out that way. Even so, this is still good advice for everyone else.)

Married With Children

Life on the road is harder for those who have a family at home. You miss them and you feel guilty about leaving them behind, and even more guilty when you’re having fun without them.

The same tourist attractions that enliven a single person’s travel can make you miss your family even more. You find yourself thinking, “The kids would love this,” or “Niagara Falls by myself? I don’t think so!”

Here are some tips for making travel easier when you miss your family:

  1. Write long letters saying all the stuff you would have said if you were at home. Buy a fax machine for the house so you can send them before you go to bed and the family can read them with breakfast. (We know. Email works just as well. Except it doesn’t. Handwritten letters mean more. They just do.)
  2. Give the hotel’s fax number to your family or set up a personal e-fax number. Encourage letters from home. Also drawings and report cards and anything else that will make you feel closer. Almost all children could benefit from the occasional writing exercise, and most of them already know how to operate a computer.
  3. Buy a small digital camera or use your cell phone to take pictures and make a “Day in the Life” slide show for the kids. Take pictures of your day from the time you wake up to the time you prepare for bed – pictures of your hotel room, your breakfast plate, your cubicle and co-workers, the bookstore you stop at after work, the restaurants you like – everything! (Trust us, they’ll love it.)

Driving in Strange (translation: “New To You”) Places

Weather conditions and driver courtesy rules vary from city to city. In some cities, driving is a brutal competition, and it’s considered rude or suicidal to slow down for a yellow light. Someone will honk at you or run into you. In others, you’ll get dirty looks if you don’t yield and let a waiting car merge in front of you. On most country roads, failure to wave at passing drivers marks you as an outsider.

No matter where you are, these tips will help lessen the impact of driving during your travels:

  1. Get a map when you arrive. If you know where you are going, you are much less likely to end up in the wrong place.
  2. If you rear-end a car on the freeway, your first move should be to hang up the phone. Better yet, go hands-free when you are driving. Best of all, hang up and drive.
  3. Rent your car from the same agency every week and be extra nice. Usually, the same agents are on duty every Monday morning, so eventually they’ll know you and may offer you the cool convertible or the Jag for a week at no extra charge.
  4. Not every state or city has a “right on red” law. Check with the car rental agency or look for a “No right on red” sign before you assume it’s legal in any intersection where you are.
  5. If you are stopped for speeding, running a red light, driving the wrong way, or, worst of all, hitting something, be very polite to everyone involved. Of course, this is true when you aren’t traveling, too, but you have a better chance of making your meeting or flight if you deal with the situation nicely.

In New York or Boston (or London or Beijing), take a cab or public transportation. Some warnings say “Don’t try this at home.” With regard to driving in these places, the rule is “Don’t try this on the road.” In other words, ask someone at your destination or consult a travel guide to find out whether it’s advisable to drive yourself around.

If you are facing your first winter in a snowy climate, ask someone to teach you how to drive in icy conditions before the first blizzard. You may feel foolish, and they will definitely laugh at you, but the first time you feel your car start to slide, you’ll be glad you did.

For us, just saying “I’m from Texas” is often enough to have our clients offer free driving lessons, icy conditions or not.

Air Travel Tips

Since 9/11, keeping track of the rules for air travel and getting through Security checkpoints has become more of a challenge, but the airlines have made a sincere effort to help.

Every airline and airport website has information about security requirements and how much time will be required to get to your gate. Experienced travelers quickly learn to avoid the busiest times of the day and week. In fact, we don’t know a single traveling consulting who would consider flying on the day before Thanksgiving under any circumstances.

Airport websites will also give you information about other amenities that are available in the terminals. For instance, did you know that the Hong Kong airport has showers and rooms where you can take a nap? After a long flight across the Pacific ocean, a shower is a wonderful way to spend your three-hour layover between connecting flights.

The airport in Portland, Oregon, has a great mall. You can get all your Christmas shopping done between flights and have the items you bought shipped home. Oh, and did we mention that Oregon doesn’t have sales tax?

The San Francisco airport has twenty different museum galleries that rotate art, culture and science exhibitions on a regular schedule. At SFO, you can’t avoid being entertained and educated while you travel.

Here are some other tips for making air travel easier:

  1. When you make your reservations, ask for a seat near the front of the plane. Airlines assign seats back-to-front and families traveling with children tend to plan further ahead than business travelers, so the shrieking three year-olds are usually in the back of the plane.
  2. Always request the Exit Row. Children aren’t permitted, and you get more legroom.
  3. Wear earplugs or invest in some good noise-canceling headphones if you plan to sleep. People talk louder on airplanes.
  4. Planes have only 3% humidity, so you get dehydrated quickly. Carry a bottle of water on board. (This will also keep your feet from swelling.) To keep costs and carryon weight low, carry an empty bottle and ask the flight attendant to fill it for you. On international flights, there is usually a water fountain available for passengers to serve themselves.
  5. When they say, “Limit two carry-on bags,” assume they really mean it and be prepared to check everything but your purse, briefcase and laptop. A good alternative if you are in a hurry is to “gate check” your bags. Especially with smaller commuter flights, this means you get your bags immediately when you get off the plane with no stop at baggage claim.
  6. Pay attention to the safety speech every once in a while. Like washing your car to make it rain, it’s just good karma. We’ve asked, and yes, most flight attendants feel just as silly giving the speech as you do listening to it, but the fact that no one is listening just makes their job harder.
  7. To prevent a stiff neck from sleeping on a plane, ask the flight attendant for a blanket, roll it up and wrap it around your neck before you fall asleep. Your head won’t roll from side-to-side, you won’t snore and you won’t look nearly as ridiculous as those people drooling on their neighbor’s shoulder. They make C-shaped pillows that do this, but that’s just one more thing to carry with you. We prefer to travel light.

While you are traveling, do everything you can to make your life easier. When you are enjoying yourself, you are better prepared to perform at work, and you’ll be more successful.

Cubicles and conference rooms are the same everywhere. The work won’t change, but taking the time to make friends with the people around you, at work and at the hotel, will make all the difference in the world to how well you do it.

Ideas For Finding Finest Online Travel Sites

Are you curious about planning a trip within the near future? If you are and if your trip will need airline reservations, you may wish to checkout on-line travel websites. Online travel web sites are a superb method to rapidly make travel arrangements, as well as favorable method to compare costs.

One of the most commonly asked questions, concerning online travel sites, is which web site is the best. Prior to focusing on ways that you can discover respected, reliable, and respectable online travel web sites to do business with, it is first essential to know what to look for. To begin with, you’ll would like to search for great rates. Online travel sites are designed in a fashion that you ought to save cash, so never pay more than what you need to.

You will also wish to look for on-line travel web sites that partner with most major airlines. When you search for flights on a travel web sites, you need to be present with several various options. In addition to various times, dates, and layovers, you ought to also be present with flight quotes from various airlines. This is likely to improve your prospects of truly finding the best deal.

Depending on your travel needs, you may also want to look for online travel web sites that offer vacation packages. For example, are you searching to book a flight to California, rent a automobile, and remain at a California hotel? If your, you should have the capacity to discover a vacation package that fits your requirements. Vacation packages are a nice method to make travel arrangements, as you may have the capability to save both time and money.

Ease of use is also essential, when searching for the best on-line travel websites to do business with. When producing important travel arrangements, like airline reservations, you don’t would like to be confused. Under the circumstances, all travel web sites that you use should be easy to navigate and understand. Tough to navigate internet sites can results in you making errors with your travel arrangements or you may even fail to spot the best deals.

The previously referred to features are all features that you will wish to search for in online travel websites. As for discovering the best travel sites, like ones with great reputations, you’ve numerous various options, beginning with your self. You are in a position to effortlessly test out numerous online travel sites to see what they’ve available. These web sites could be discovered with an ordinary web search. Take into account low rates and ease of use. Be mindful of any websites that are hard to navigate and look out for fares that appear beyond regular.

You are in a position to also discover more about the best on-line travel web sites to do business with by asking those that you know for recommendations. Over the past few years, online travel sites have raised in popularity and numerous people use them. Ask any buddies, relatives, neighbors, or coworkers in passing if they have ever utilized an online travel site to book a holiday prior to. If they have, which one did they use and would they suggest it to others? This approach is nice, as it needs little research on your part.

You are in a position to also use the web to research online travel websites to find the greatest ones. You can do this by performing a common internet search, with an expression like “best travel websites.” You may find company articles where the top on-line travel internet sites are listed. You could also be connected to on-line message panels where travel alternatives, such as online travel internet sites, are being talked over. This is a fantastic way to get ratings and reviews.

The previously referred to approaches are all great ways to go about learning more about online travel websites. Performing so can help to make sure that you’re doing company with an on-line travel web site that will offer you with the very best deals, also as the best quality of service.

DIY Travel Should Save You Money

Travellers or Travelers today, whether experienced or not, have unlimited choices, so why use a travel agent?

Savvy travellers or travelers, when in need of information relating to specific destinations or activities, seek out travel agents with knowledge, experience and expertise of those destinations and activities.

It is not always easy choosing a travel agent. Many agents are called specialists, but sometimes the qualification to be a specialist is a simple test run by a tourism office or tour operator. Sometimes, these tests do not require the agent to have ‘been there, done that, got the t-shirt.’ Some of these tests are too simple and could harm the reputation of the travel industry if allowed to continue unchecked. A ‘specialist’ can mean, ‘I know the brochure product’ or ‘I have seen a training video’ or ‘I have taken a test given by a Tourism Office.’

If you find a specialist, ask about their expertise. Ask them if they or their colleagues have any direct knowledge, experience and expertise of where you want to go and what you want to do, after all, it is your hard-earned money.

Experts are out there. Find them locally or use the internet and then do your bookings with them. You may have to use different experts for different destinations and activities, just as you would select any other professional for accounting, legal, medical or mechanical matters, except in your lifetime you will probably (or hopefully) spend more on travel than all of the others put together.
Reality Check: “I once tried a major chain of travel centres to get 2 tickets to Mexico from Canada. I was only offered 2 airlines. I then used an internet search and came up with 5 airlines and made my bookings online. Perhaps the travel centre did not earn commission or was not able to charge a fee for the booking or did not want an ‘air only’ booking or did they only offer their ‘preferred products’ which limits client choices?”

The Nomad

If you do not need an expert agent you can use the internet to find all kinds of global travel choices and then you can make your booking directly with an online agent or travel operator. If you decide to make your own bookings directly with the travel operator you should not have to pay the full retail price which has a built-in amount for commissions to be paid to sellers of their travel products. Retail agencies that have their own in-house tour products which are sold through other agencies should also be prepared to sell at a net price for a direct booking from a consumer.

It is only fair that agents and agencies earn commissions and fees from travel providers such as hotels, lodges, tours, cruises or mark up their own tour products to allow for a third-party sale. They all have overheads which have to be covered to give local consumers the convenience of local shopping and it is important to support your local businesses as long as they offer excellent pricing and service. At the same time, it is only fair that consumers who make their own bookings directly with travel operators should not have to incur this extra cost. Fair fare prices should be available for consumers who want to handle their own direct bookings.

If you are comfortable with dealing over the internet directly with the travel providers and you want to get fair fare prices you can check out a travel website that was launched in April 2008 that, for members only, offers free travel vouchers that saves them the commission or fee elements in retail travel prices. The site offers thousands of travel vouchers for travel in over 70 countries ranging from simple B&B accommodations to complex adventure travel, all at net of commission prices. This travel site is operated by an online travel club that does not sell travel or make reservations and all monies therefore, are handled directly between the members and the travel operators.

The internet has just about everything a traveller or even a traveler could want, whereas agents and agencies can only offer limited selections of brochures from travel providers and operators. There are thousands of travel businesses that never get to see the inside of a travel agency or brochure, but they would still be prepared to pay commissions to sellers of their products. This online travel club allows travel businesses to promote their products and services at no cost except the requirement to issue travel vouchers that represent the normal commissions and fees in the retail price. 100% of these savings are then passed on to members who do their own direct bookings. As a member, all travel vouchers are free but if you do not want to join there is an associated website that sells the same travel vouchers without requiring a membership fee.

A tip from the website. When you make your own direct bookings, do make sure that the time in the time-zone that you are calling is appropriate as “it is embarrassing to wake up a Greek Sea Captain at one in the morning somewhere in the Greek Islands to discuss their listing.” The Nomad at The Top Travel Club.

This site is continually adding new travel selections and as long as you are comfortable and prepared to be a D.I.Y. Traveller or D.I.Y. Traveler over the web, you might find some interesting trips and adventures, some of which are not readily available elsewhere.

In closing, I hope you find the little bits of attempted English language humour humorous and as I consider myself 1 L of a Traveler, I say 2 L with travellers but at last I am happy to have found a web travel centre centered around saving me money. Apologies to both Websters and Oxford dictionaries.

How to Start Your Own Tutoring Business and Start Making Money Today!

If you have been thinking about starting a small business that lends itself to working from home and has little start up costs, you should definitely consider starting your own tutoring business.

Tutoring has become an exploding market in the US, Canada and Europe in the last five years. With two parents working in most households, parents simply don’t have the time to help their children with school work and are turning to tutors to supplement their child’s education.

There are many tutoring franchises and companies out there, but it truly is a fairly easy industry to jump into and start marketing your own tutoring company. By starting your own company, you avoid the costly fees that tutoring companies take out before paying their tutors.

Bloomberg recently reported that tutors in NYC are making up to $200 dollars per hour! Wow! In most large cities, tutors make between $50 and $70 dollars per hour. In smaller cities, you can expect to earn $30 – $50 dollars per hour, depending on the area.

Marketing is fairly inexpensive and there are even free tools that you can use to immediately launch your business and start advertising. Typically students already have their own textbooks and therefore you don’t need to purchase materials. The internet is a great tool to find supplemental worksheets to use during your sessions.

The best part about having your own tutoring business is that you get to meet new people, help a child succeed and make a great living at the same time. You can run this business out of your house if you choose or meet students in a public library or coffee house.

Travel Risk Management: Are You Ready for a Crisis?

Introduction

If you know that business travel is not without its risk and the potential for crisis, then you need to read this article. In this article we are going to talk about the management and containment of crisis as it relates to travellers and travel managers. The objective of this article is to share with you the collective knowledge on managing crisis and significantly improve your ability to identify and manage a crisis but also improve your business travel efficiency.

During this article I am going to discuss travel risk myths, crisis management, plans and options so you can immediately compare or improve your own travel risk management system for your travellers or travel management department.

Crisis by definition is something you didn’t have a plan for or something in which you are unprepared. Additionally, it can be a series of events that in concert create a crisis. Events or issues that occur, to which you have a plan and strategy, is merely an incident.

Crisis Management/Leadership

The first thing is to clarify what is the difference between crisis management and leadership. More importantly, which one is the more important?

Crisis management relates to the response to event/s that threaten your business, travellers or travel activity. The event leads and you follow with plans, decisions and actions.

Crisis leadership, on the other hand, is more about getting ahead of the events and issues to prevent, management and even contain the impact to your business or business travel activities. While management is a portion of the leadership demand, your actions and involvement lead the outcomes rather than a more passive wait and act approach with pure crisis management.

Crisis leadership is the less practiced of the two, but the most significant in terms of results and reduction in risk and impact. If you take nothing else away from this session, it should be that your focus should always be on Crisis Leadership, not crisis management.

Myths

There are many myths and half-truths about crisis, disruption and threats within the travel management sector. Much of this misinformation has originated from travellers themselves, media, travel managers, friends and family or so called “experts”.

For example, many travellers and planners are focused on terrorism. The reality is, you have a very, very small chance of being exposed or affected directly by a terrorist act. It doesn’t mean you should discount it as a threat altogether but it shouldn’t dominate your plans or processes if not a proportional threat to you and your travellers. Conversely, almost everyone overlooks motor vehicle accidents. Yet, they happen far more frequently, can have devastating affect on travellers and are the least common plan contained within company travel management departments.

Travellers and travel managers must be prepared, educated and have supporting plans for any event that has the potential to delay, disrupt or harm the traveller or the business.

The most common events include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Airline delays or cancellations
  • Airport closures or disruptions
  • Transport delays
  • Bad weather
  • Sickness and illness
  • Petty crimes
  • Hotel fires
  • Political disputes
  • Demonstrations and gatherings

Motor vehicle accidents within your own country can be stressful and dangerous but on an overseas business trip they can be 100 times more challenging and dangerous. Consider language, local authorities, first responder, standard of healthcare, families and support in your plans and initial response.

Airline delays and cancelations. They happen all the time but they are not just an administrative response. You may need to consider safety, transport, quarantines, security threats, government response and wide spread suspension of services to overcome the issue and maintain safety of your travellers.

Airport closures or disruptions. Failed systems, electrical problems, threats, weather, construction and so on can prevent you even getting to your flight. Consider the impact this has on your plans and how your traveller will need to possibly extend stay, move to alternate airport or find accommodation.

All other transport delays and disruptions can create crisis when everyone no longer has access to trains, buses, key roads or even water transport. Have a plan and add it to your immediate decision making process.

2010 and the commencement of 2011 has seen travel of all kind affected by natural disasters and weather. Weather and natural forces have and always will impact travellers. It does and will continue to occur. It is highly concerning how unprepared travellers and companies are for volcanic eruptions, typhoons, floods, earthquakes and general bad weather.

People get sick or feel unwell all the time. This is compounded significantly when travelling. Standard of care, language, access, cost, complications, choice and numerous other location based concerns will determine just how at risk your traveller will be. A single, “one-size-fits-all” plan or solution will fail and you need to be aware of these issues immediately with the onset of an affected traveller.

Crimes are a reality of any city in the world. However, travellers seldom know the risks and may be preyed upon by thieves and criminals. The loss of phones, money, and other items may seem less likely to constitute a crisis but when overseas, injured or not able to speak the local language, all these simple events can create a major concern for your business travellers. This can be amplified if you have a senior executive or a group of executives affected.

Hotel fires and emergencies are more common than most people think. The immediate threat to an individual is fairly obvious but the impact that the lack of accommodation choices can create from the temporary or permanent closure of a hotel is a much bigger concern. This was graphically displayed during the Mumbai terror attacks (as extra ordinary as the event was) when most of the best/preferred hotels were now unavailable in a key part of the city. This removed thousands of rooms for business travellers and forced many to cancel or significantly alter travel plans just because there were a lack of suitable accommodation options, whether affected by the events or not.

Any event that alters the political stability of a location or region or results in thousands of people out on the streets constitutes a risk to your business travel plans and travellers. They can happen spontaneously or take time to develop. The immediate dangers and the ongoing disruption can have a major impact on your business or traveller.

Again, plans, preparation and thought to these issues will greatly reduce the impact and improve your business too.

Now that we have removed the most common misconceptions, let’s focus on the management and containment of a crisis.

Crisis management

The key to successful crisis management is planning, training, plans, decision-making and adaptability.

Planning

Given the issues previously covered, you now have a better insight into how and why planning is important to remove the more emotive issues from the realities of real business threats and events.

Planning needs to include multiple departments and perspectives to be truly effective. One of the greatest weaknesses I see regularly is that departments continue to manage the risk of travel through multiple departments with multiple plans. The input and plan needs to be unified. Depending on the company, it may include travel managers, security, HR, finance, marketing, C-suite and operations.

All plans need to be co
ntinuously updated, location specific, aide in the decision-making process and modular enough have elements extracted quickly and effectively. Modern, effective plans embrace technology. Rapid, efficient access to information, along with running updates is the hallmarks of a modern sustainable plan, regardless of the size of the issue or the company.

Training

No plan is effective without training and rehearsal. Training, whether through simulations, drills or live, full-scale exercises are vital to the success of any crisis situation. Such sessions don’t need to be boring or overly complicated but must include travel managers and planners along with the more common crisis and emergency managers.

Increasingly, training is becoming a mandatory requirement for key positions and roles. It can be linked to internal HR processes but must support the business objectives and measurable on how it reduces the risk to people, business, brand and travel demands.

While the plan creates the framework for crisis decision-making, teams can learn a lot from training on how and when to adapt their plans. How the team interacts, strength, weakness, leaders, followers, limitations, tools and many more planned and surprise outcomes are possible with effective training.

Adaptations

No plan will completely script all the events, issues and options available for every plausible travel delay, disruption or crisis. You need to be able to adapt and evolve from the original plan and intention. This can only be achieved with planning, plans and training.

Solutions So what do I need in my plan?

Here is the best travel risk management content for your plan:

  • Objective(the single most important part of any travel policy)
  • References
  • Scope
  • Legal
  • Insurance
  • Finance
  • Reimbursements
  • Limits
  • Priority/precedence
  • Management Authority/ies
  • Situations

Procedure will likely cover:

  • Planning
  • Resources
  • Tools
  • Authority
  • Executive Decision making
  • Limits
  • Budgets
  • Training
  • Compliance
  • Pre-trip admin
  • Providers
  • Booking
  • Accommodation
  • Airlines
  • Ground Transport
  • Safety and Security
  • Health and wellness
  • Emergency
  • SOP/Actions on
  • Insurance
  • Travel Monitoring /tracking
  • Reporting
  • HR
  • Entitlements
  • Threat/risk levels
  • Shelter in Place
  • Relocations/evacuations
  • Management Authority
  • Review

Don’t forget your risk assessment will need to include the key elements:

  • Traveller
  • Location
  • Activity
  • Support/Resources
  • Response

Conclusion

There you have it. Now you know what is required, how do you rate your current plans and preparedness?

You now have the most relevant issues and areas to focus upon that will reduce or contain the majority of incidents you may face your travellers will be safer, your business more profitable and your costs will be contained by reducing your exposure to expensive crisis events.

We have debunked popular travel threat myths, identified the difference between crisis management and leadership, outlined plans and options so you can immediately compare or improve your own travel risk management system for your travellers or travel management department. Review your plans and make the immediate improvements.

You will know when you have an effective crisis management system for your travel risk management strategy when you have little to no crisis.

You may have numerous events or incidents but you have a plan, you’re prepared and your decision making is fast and consistent. If not, you have failed and you will run from crisis to crisis on a regular basis.

Become a Travel Agent – Reap the Benefits

Become a travel agent and capitalize on reaping the benefits of 7 trillion dollar and counting industry. The travel industry is probably the largest in the world and America is in the top 3. The internet continues to literally explode with opportunities and home based businesses really rocket into the limelight.

Air travel has come a long way since its humble beginnings and today it is possible to fly to the farthest corners of the earth without any difficulty whatsoever. More people are being attracted to flying overseas for annual vacations and business travel. If you have landed on this page don’t go away – you can read all about the benefits you will enjoy when you become a travel agent.

Once you take a look at the grand benefits you can avail of when you become a travel agent my guess is there will be no turning back.

A travel agent gets to save as much as 80 percent on travel to several of the world’s finest resorts and travel destinations. General discounts include but are in no way limited to:

• Complimentary upgrades on airlines
• Hotel room discounts
• Hotel room upgrades
• Car rental discounts and upgrades
• Discounted or even complimentary cruises
• Vacation package discounts and benefits
• Earn visits and discounts to theme parks, shows and attractions
• Luxury cruise discounts of up to 70 percent
• Comprehensive training

You could become a travel agent and enjoy familiarization (FAM) trips; supplier offer these trips to travel Professionals to familiarize them with the facilities and gain first hand knowledge about an airline, hotel, travel destination, etc. A travel Professional cannot be an effective sales person if they have never actually experienced the joy of visiting a particular place; flying a particular airline or staying at a particular hotel. This first hand knowledge will help convince clients that the agent is knowledgeable and knows what he or she is talking about.

When you travel a distinct benefit is the fact that suppliers roll out the red carpet for you. They tend to go overboard in convincing you that their hotel or package is the best on the market.

Independent travel agents can avail of tax benefits and you need to check this with a CPA or professional tax authority to get the right information.

Travel Professionals earn travel agent commissions on travel undertaken by clients and self.

For the people who enjoy traveling, when you become a travel agent it is like a dream come true – you get to fly to so many travel destinations and enjoy other parts of the world while fulfilling the travel urge in you.

You will need to do your research to find a good company to tie up with depending on whether you want to be an independent travel Professional or work with a big travel agency. You will also need a license to become a Certified Travel Professional need to do research on companies who offer independent travel agent.

How To Profit Handsomely From The Failure of The Travel Agent Industry

Contrary to what one might think, the tragic events of 911 and the subsequent “war on terror” have not stopped people from traveling. In fact, the demand for travel has actually been growing, mostly due to the ever-increasing numbers of retired baby boomers who love to travel. Now, the travel industry is generating annual revenue well in excess of 6 trillion dollars. However, despite this tremendous growth, the conventional travel agent business model has been failing miserably and this represents a great opportunity for you to profit handsomely by marketing wholesale travel direct to the public. Here’s why.

The key to the travel agents’ business was the their ability to get exclusive information to book travel. They had information that the general public was unable to get. In the past if you or I wanted to book a trip it would be necessary to use a travel agent who would access the information through private computer systems such a PARS, SABRE and APOLLO and then relay that information to us. We would use this information to get the best possible travel accommodations to fit our budget and schedule. The Internet has dramatically changed this situation.

Thanks to the Internet, the general public can now access information that was once only accessible by travel agents. Now anyone tap into airline websites directly to book flights and lodging accommodations. In addition to that, there are sophisticated travel search portals such as Priceline, Travelocity and Expedia that access huge databases of travel service to providers to offer attractively priced travel accommodations to the public. The competition for your travel dollar is extremely fierce.

This has had a negative impact on travel agent commissions. The generous commissions that conventional travel agents once enjoyed have now dwindled to nickels and dimes! The airlines reduced travel agent commissions to such an extent that they’ve effectively told the travel agents, “we don’t need you anymore”. Consequently storefront travel agents are leaving the business in droves! Three years ago there were about 190,000 travel agent storefronts in operation. Today that number is down to about 65,000. That’s roughly a decrease of 66 percent! You may refer to detailed supportive data compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor at this address – http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos124.htm

At this point it should be clear that the conventional travel agent business model is on the decline despite the growing demand for travel. There is yet another factor which I am about to share, that will make you realize the tremendous potential of the wholesale travel niche. That factor is excess capacity!

Excess capacity has always been a bane to the travel industry. Why? Because hotels, cruise lines and resorts can’t make money from empty rooms! So they are willing to negotiate surreptitiously with select travel service companies and even companies outside of the travel industry to make sure that those rooms are filled with travelers even if it means giving them away for free!

They know that once a traveler is on their property, that person will spend money at their affiliated gift shops, nightclubs, restaurants, tour programs and casinos etc. Thus, giving away free accommodations can turn out to be quite a profitable venture. So they’re eager to make arrangements with wholesale travel distributors who will help keep their room filled to capacity every night.

Wholesale travel packages allow a consumer to easily book their own travel arrangements with prestigious service providers and enjoy complimentary and deep discount travel privileges up to 75% off retail rates. Even the hugely popular travel search portals mentioned earlier can’t match these savings!

Marketing wholesale travel packages direct to the public is and extremely simple lucrative way for anyone profit from the annual multi-trillion dollar travel industry revue. It represents a perfect way for disheartened travel agents to adapt to the new travel industry environment as well!

5 Things You Must Know About Medical Travel

There are FIVE very important things you need to know before taking your next travel assignment:

1. SALARY, SALARY, SALARY.

Chances are INCREDIBLY HIGH you are NOT getting paid top dollar for your assignment if you accept the Standard Benefit Package travel companies offer.

Most travelers (both new and seasoned) do not realize that the Standard Benefit Package offered by a travel company is only a STARTING place for negotiation. Because the initial salary offered is higher than what they receive for a stationary job position, often travelers quickly take the standard salary, not realizing that negotiating for MORE is relatively easy.

I know for a fact that I have worked along side other medical travelers doing the same job I was hired to do at the same time in the same hospital and they were making less per hour than me…And some of these people were not new to the travel game! Why? They might either be unaware of the pay range for their job title and competency and/or they simply thought that their current assignment “just paid that particular amount.”

But the real NUMBER ONE reason they aren’t getting top dollar is they don’t know what to ask and how to ask for it!

Just knowing what to ask can signal to a recruiter that you are a savvy business person and immediately increase your changes of getting the best deal.

Don’t take years to “catch on”, losing money all the while, when you can start smart right out of the gate. And if you’ve already hit the road and are suspecting you’re not getting the best deals, you can change that today!

2. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!!

You can end up in some very undesirable locations if you don’t know how to access the best travel assignments.

When I first began medical travel I had no idea of the broad scope of places I could visit. I merely took the only job I was offered and set out to drive across the country in my own car. I arrived to spend a very desolate 13 weeks in a little out of the way town that offered nothing of interest. In addition it was a very dull working environment. So much for the glamour of travel!!

The type of job I just described is obviously harder to fill with a more knowledgeable traveler and therefore many companies merely take advantage of the traveling novice and send them packing to the outer parts of nowhere. After all, the travel company gets paid for you to work…where you work is your problem!

However, even those who have been traveling for awhile often do not know how to land the most desirable job locations. It took me several years to figure out the “nuts and bolts” of ending up where I really wanted to work and visit. (After all, one of the main reasons besides salary to hit the road is to enjoy the view!!) Looking back, accessing the BEST job locations was really just a matter of know-how and not complicated at all.

3. TRAVEL NIGHTMARES!

You can get booked on some flights from “you know where” if you are unaware of the options the travel company can provide.

Some years ago I took a job in Oregon that necessitated me flying across the country from my Florida address. I was still in my medical travel learning curve and thus ended up changing flights three different times complete with hideous layovers plus I arrived at 1 am in the morning at an airport that was two hours away from the town where I would be working! I took the rental car awaiting me and drove to the hotel where I was to spend my first night (if crawling into bed at around 4 am could be called going to bed for the night!) On top of that the motel ended up being a colossal dump with a stuck heater system that turned my room into a steam bath, finally driving me out into the early morning air exhausted and angry.

Since travel companies normally cover your travel expenses, they can save money by re-routing you all over the place and by having you arrive at weird hours and in towns or cities within “driving distance” of your destination. Trust me, it happens often! If you don’t know your “rights” you’ll have the experience fairly quickly once you begin to travel.

So just know that because you’re told your “travel plans are all taken care of” it doesn’t mean you’re going to like the arrangements one bit!!

4. HOUSING…LOUSY, JUST AVERAGE, OR GRAND!

There are many ways to either enjoy or rue the day you took an assignment and one of those factors is the type of housing accommodations the travel company provides for you.

Most assignment last 13 weeks and 13 weeks is a long time to live somewhere you don’t like and enjoy. I’ve had just about every experience possible since I began traveling, from fairly lousy, to just average, to absolutely grand. And as any traveler will tell you, GRAND is always better!

To tell you the truth I could just kick myself when I think back to some of the housing conditions I accepted. It wasn’t that they were terrible (well, one was pretty bad!), many were just “ho-hum.” (Certainly not directly overlooking the ocean, which I have now experienced on two assignments…all due to the negotiating techniques I’ve learned along the way.)

But now I go first class on each of my assignments and I do that on a regular basis. And believe it or not, it’s very easy to get those upscale housing considerations. Very easy! Among the many considerations I ask for and receive besides an upscale apartment complex or condo community ( a good start in and of itself!), are a BIG television (I like sports and I don’t want to squint to see the action!), a washer and dryer inside my personal apartment or condo (no trips to the local wash-dry-and-fold for me!), availability of a pool and work out room, a really well stocked kitchen (not just a few barely adequate necessities) and even a hide-a-bed sofa at my current assignment just in case I want to have guests. These are just a few examples of the things I ask for and receive…My list goes on and on!

5. THE RIGHT JOB!

There are some very simple but critical things you need to ask to determine if you’re walking into a job straight from the pit or into smooth sailing complete with a great environment and friendly co-workers and physicians.

You will be interviewed by a recruiter from the travel company to see where you are best suited to work and you will also be interviewed by a representative of the hospital where you are being considered for a travel position. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, you’ll be able to interview them too.

I am still appalled when I hear even seasoned travelers tell me they ask very few questions, other than the basics, when they are considering a position. As a result, horror stories constantly make the rounds about travelers arriving at jobs that turned out to be anything but what they expected. And now they are bound by a legal contract to complete the assignment!

To me, not asking the right questions is not only totally foolish, it’s completely unnecessary. Almost without exception I can spot “red flags” about a job just by asking some critical questions of the travel company recruiter and the hospital representative. In fact, you’ll be awed at the information people will volunteer if you just ask the right way!!

Case in point…not long ago I was interviewing for a position in my home state of Florida. It had all the criteria on the surface that made it seem the perfect set up. However, after asking the questions I’ve learned over time to ask, I knew I would be walking straight into one those situations I wanted to avoid at all costs. For example, just one of the red flags that presented was this…three people had left all at once from this particular department, indicating there were some major problems there. I would not have known that if I hadn’t asked the right question. The exit of those three employees leads me to ask a few more questions. As a result, I quickly moved on to another assignment.

The interesting follow up to this story i
s that some months later I returned and took this exact assignment. Why? The whole stage had changed…new people, new environment…things had settled down and the unworkable situation had been corrected. And the job was great this time around. One of the other travelers that had lasted out the initial nightmare and had renewed his assignment told me I had certainly avoided the worst. Hear, hear!

Now, I’ve given you just five things from the many chapters of my book, Insider Secrets to Medical Travel that you must know before taking your next travel assignment, whether you’re a novice or a seasoned traveler who has become dissatisfied with the deals you’re being offered.

Implementing any ONE of these five things in an informed manner can bring you tremendous benefits while saving you untold grief and a lengthy, painful learning curve.

Medical travel can be a lucrative, fun, exciting, and fulfilling career…IF you know how to navigate the system and access the highest salary, most desirable locations, comfortable travel plans, nicest housing accommodations, and the best job scenarios.